Thursday, August 28, 2008

Meet the gas giant and the star of the Swan

UMSL has got stars, planets, nebulae, and entire galaxies, all for free.

The Richard D. Schwartz Observatory on the campus of the University of Missouri-St. Louis is hosting a free open house of the heavens 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 6.
The observatory open house will feature a viewing of the following celestial celebrities: Jupiter (a gas giant and the largest planet in our solar system, named after the Roman ruler of the gods), Albireo (a Beta star of Cygnus, the Swan), Ring Nebula, and the Hercules Cluster of galaxies.

Those are just the celebrities, slated for this special viewing. All open house sessions, we are told, include a viewing of the first quarter moon, along with additional nebulae and galaxies.

In the case of inclement weather - if the skies don't want to cooperate with this plan to showcase the heavens - the open house will be held at 8 p.m. Sunday, Sept 7. The observatory is located off Florissant Road and Rosedale Drive, adjacent to the Fine Arts Building. Directions are right over here.
I offer this public announcement in an effort to appease the constellations, which my efforts have left more lonely up until now. When I moved home from New York several years ago, my friend Adam Long was one of the St. Louis area's most engaged amateur astronomers. When he wasn't producing gangster hip-hop or traditional gospel sessions, he was buying fabulously expensive gear and pointing it at some distant galaxy.

Then one day I remarked, off-handed, that he might try investing, instead, in a home studio rather than paying for room rates all over town. He took up my idea. His next paycheck went into studio gear, rather than a telescope. Three years later, he seldom works anywhere but in his home studio (unless someone flies him to New York). He even more seldom looks up into the sky at night with anything more powerful than his eyeglasses.

The heavens' loss has been Broadway's gain. Adam's engineering and production work on the original Broadway cast recording of Gypsy (which was released on Tuesday) is expected to win the Grammy this year. Adam is going to be, a bad pun, a big star.


Photo of the Ring Nebula by the Hubble Telescope.


Dawn said...

Stargazing has always been something remembered from time spent with my father. We would always look for Orion and the Seven Sisters. Thank you for the memories.

Confluence City said...

I know at least two Dawns I'd like to think of looking at the night sky long before dawn ... I wonder which one were you? And, you're welcome.